Ireland is to stage the first Round of the 2019 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup, one of the major international events in the sport and a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The prestigious event will be held over the June Bank Holiday at Bettystown Beach on the County Meath coastline between Dublin and Drogheda.

The two days of competition will see players from across Europe arrive in Ireland, many of them for the first time in a sport which has only been on the Olympic schedule through London 2012 and Tokyo 2020.

Ireland is one of eight countries that will host pool matches with a likely four countries competing in both men’s and women’s events at each venue.

The others to have succeeded in the competition and which were announced in Luxembourg yesterday are Croatia, Cyprus, England, Georgia, Greece, Slovenia and Serbia.

Successful countries from this initial group stage will advance to a second phase in May 2020 and the Finals in June of that year.

“Bringing International events to Ireland is a key part of our strategy to grow, develop and promote the sport,” said Volleyball Ireland President Grainne Culliton.

“The profile of this event will help us inspire new players to the sport. We are incredibly excited to host such a prestigious event.”

The Tournament will align with the European Volleyball Schools Project programme, with Volleyball Ireland working with the Meath Sports Partnership to deliver Beach Volleyball in local schools ahead of the event.

“We want to use the profile of an Olympic Qualifier to get more people into Volleyball,” said Volleyball Ireland General Manager Gary Stewart.

“It’s a great opportunity to show the country what a great sport Volleyball is. It’s also a superb opportunity for potential partners to come on board and work with us on this event and our huge schools programme which reaches all corners of Ireland.”

Volleyball Ireland has a range of programmes for participants aged 5 years to 95 years old through its physical literacy initiatives for children to its Chair Volleyball campaign for older adults.

Bettystown Beach has played a key role in the Beach Volleyball Ireland National Tour in recent years, and Meath County Council has been a strong supporter in winning the right to host the Continental Cup Group stage.

The tournament will take place on June 1st and 2nd, one week before the Women’s Hockey Olympic Qualification tournament.